Topics

A Subtle Attack on Biochar for Carbon Sequestration #carbon #wildfire


ROBERT W GILLETT
 

The description of this research on the fate of carbon from wildfires looks like they assume the majority of the labile carbon ends up in streams and that biochar is mostly labile. From that, they draw the conclusion that biochar may not be a good material to sequester carbon. Whether it correctly applies to wildfires, I don't know, but I think someone should push back against the extrapolation to biochar.


Albert Bates
 

Maybe USBI should fund a Truth Squad. 

That wildfire story is easily debunked by the journal paper earlier this year showing how much biochar in the world was made by wildfire and lingers after millennia. 

—Albert

Global Village Institute 
PO Box 90
Summertown TN 38483 USA
GVIx.org
Facebook.com/carboncascades


On Dec 23, 2019, at 10:58 AM, ROBERT W GILLETT <themarvalus.wabio@...> wrote:

The description of this research on the fate of carbon from wildfires looks like they assume the majority of the labile carbon ends up in streams and that biochar is mostly labile. From that, they draw the conclusion that biochar may not be a good material to sequester carbon. Whether it correctly applies to wildfires, I don't know, but I think someone should push back against the extrapolation to biochar.


Tom Miles
 

Interesting article, Bob, which raises a lot of questions.  I have the author of the research to join our group.


Tom

 

From: main@Biochar.groups.io <main@Biochar.groups.io> On Behalf Of ROBERT W GILLETT
Sent: Monday, December 23, 2019 7:58 AM
To: main@Biochar.groups.io
Subject: [Biochar] A Subtle Attack on Biochar for Carbon Sequestration

 

The description of this research on the fate of carbon from wildfires looks like they assume the majority of the labile carbon ends up in streams and that biochar is mostly labile. From that, they draw the conclusion that biochar may not be a good material to sequester carbon. Whether it correctly applies to wildfires, I don't know, but I think someone should push back against the extrapolation to biochar.


Don Coyne <don@...>
 

Do you have a link to that paper or the title Albert?

 

Chars,


Don

 

From: main@Biochar.groups.io <main@Biochar.groups.io> On Behalf Of Albert Bates
Sent: Tuesday, 24 December 2019 3:31 AM
To: main@biochar.groups.io
Subject: Re: [Biochar] A Subtle Attack on Biochar for Carbon Sequestration

 

Maybe USBI should fund a Truth Squad. 

That wildfire story is easily debunked by the journal paper earlier this year showing how much biochar in the world was made by wildfire and lingers after millennia. 

 

—Albert

 

Global Village Institute 

PO Box 90

Summertown TN 38483 USA

GVIx.org

Facebook.com/carboncascades

 



On Dec 23, 2019, at 10:58 AM, ROBERT W GILLETT <themarvalus.wabio@...> wrote:

The description of this research on the fate of carbon from wildfires looks like they assume the majority of the labile carbon ends up in streams and that biochar is mostly labile. From that, they draw the conclusion that biochar may not be a good material to sequester carbon. Whether it correctly applies to wildfires, I don't know, but I think someone should push back against the extrapolation to biochar.


Frank Strie
 

Earlier international work:

APRIL 18, 2013

Where does charcoal, or black carbon, in soils go?

by National Science Foundation



Charred boreal forest after a fire has raged: where does the "charcoal" go?
Credit: Stefan Doerr, Swansea University

(Phys.org) —Scientists have uncovered one of nature's long-kept secrets—the true fate of charcoal in the world's soils.
The ability to determine the fate of charcoal is critical to knowledge of the global carbon budget, which in turn can help understand and mitigate climate change. However, until now, researchers only had scientific guesses about what happens to charcoal once it's incorporated into soil. They believed it stayed there. Surprisingly, most of these researchers were wrong.

The findings of a new study that examines the result of charcoal once it is deposited into the soil are outlined in a paper published this week in the journal Science.

The international team of researchers was led by scientists Rudolf Jaffe of Florida International University and Thorsten Dittmar of the German Max Planck Society.

"Most scientists thought charcoal was resistant," says Jaffe. "They believed that once it was incorporated into soils, it stayed there. But if that were the case, soils would be black."

Charcoal, or black carbon, is a residue generated by combustion including wildfires and the burning of fossil fuels.

When charcoal forms, it is usually deposited into the soil.

"From a chemical perspective, no one really thought it dissolved, but it does," Jaffe says.

"It doesn't accumulate for a long time. It's exported into wetlands and rivers, eventually making its way to the oceans."

It all started with a strange finding in the Everglades.

At the National Science Foundation (NSF) Florida Coastal Everglades Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) site—one of 26 such NSF LTER sites in ecosystems around the world—Jaffe studied the glades' environmental chemistry.

Dissolved organic carbon is known to be abundant in wetlands such as the Everglades and plays a critical role in the ecology of these systems.

Jaffe wanted to learn more about what comprised the organic carbon in the Everglades.

The familiar look of charcoal; some charcoal is generated by wildfires and burning fossil fuels. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

He and colleagues discovered that as much as 20 percent of the total dissolved organic carbon in the Everglades is charcoal.

Surprised by the finding, the researchers shifted their focus to the origin of the dissolved charcoal.

In an almost serendipitous scientific journey, Dittmar, head of the Max Planck Research Group for Marine Geochemistry at the University Oldenburg in Germany, was also tracing the paths of charcoal, but from an oceanographic perspective.

To map out a more comprehensive picture, the researchers joined forces. Their conclusion is that charcoal in soils is making its way into the world's waters.

"This study affirms the power of large-scale analyses made possible through international collaborations," says Saran Twombly, program director in NSF's Division of Environmental Biology, which funded the research along with NSF's Directorate for Geosciences.

"What started out as a puzzling result from the Florida Everglades engaged scientists at other LTER sites in the U.S., and eventually expanded worldwide," says Twombly. "The result is a major contribution to our understanding of the carbon cycle."

Fire is probably an integral part of the global carbon cycle, says Dittmar, its effects seen from land to sea.

The discovery carries significant implications for bioengineering, the scientists believe.

The global carbon budget is a balancing act between sources that produce carbon and sources that remove it.

The new findings show that the amount of dissolved charcoal transported to the oceans is keeping pace with the total charcoal generated by fires annually on a global scale.

While the environmental consequences of the accumulation of black carbon in surface and ocean waters are currently unknown, Jaffe said the findings mean that greater consideration should be given to carbon sequestration techniques.

Biochar addition to soils is one such technique.

Biochar technology is based on vegetation-derived charcoal that is added to agricultural soils as a means of sequestering carbon.

As more people implement biochar technology, says Jaffe, they should take into consideration the potential dissolution of the charcoal to ensure that these techniques are environmentally friendly.

Jaffe and Dittmar agree that there are still many unknowns when it comes to the environmental fate of charcoal, and both plan to move on to the next phase of the research.

They've proved where charcoal goes.

Now they'd like to answer how that happens, and what the environmental consequences are.

The more scientists can understand the process and the environmental factors controlling it, says Jaffe, the better the chances of developing strategies for carbon sequestration and mitigating climate change.
https://phys.org/news/2013-04-charcoal-black-carbon-soils.html

================================================

Leeper Lecturers | Soil Science Australia

https://www.soilscienceaustralia.org.au › publications › seminars-and-lectures

 

1.      

2014 Prof Heike Knicker presented the Leeper Lecture 'Soils in fire-prone ecosystems – Where does all the charcoal go?' 2013 Professor Paul Bertsch, Chief of ...
https://www.soilscienceaustralia.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/leeper_knicker_slides.pdf


 

From: main@Biochar.groups.io <main@Biochar.groups.io> On Behalf Of Don Coyne
Sent: Tuesday, December 24, 2019 8:25 AM
To: main@Biochar.groups.io
Subject: Re: [Biochar] A Subtle Attack on Biochar for Carbon Sequestration

 

Do you have a link to that paper or the title Albert?

 

Chars,


Don

 

From: main@Biochar.groups.io <main@Biochar.groups.io> On Behalf Of Albert Bates
Sent: Tuesday, 24 December 2019 3:31 AM
To: main@biochar.groups.io
Subject: Re: [Biochar] A Subtle Attack on Biochar for Carbon Sequestration

 

Maybe USBI should fund a Truth Squad. 

That wildfire story is easily debunked by the journal paper earlier this year showing how much biochar in the world was made by wildfire and lingers after millennia. 

 

—Albert

 

Global Village Institute 

PO Box 90

Summertown TN 38483 USA

GVIx.org

Facebook.com/carboncascades

 

 

On Dec 23, 2019, at 10:58 AM, ROBERT W GILLETT <themarvalus.wabio@...> wrote:

The description of this research on the fate of carbon from wildfires looks like they assume the majority of the labile carbon ends up in streams and that biochar is mostly labile. From that, they draw the conclusion that biochar may not be a good material to sequester carbon. Whether it correctly applies to wildfires, I don't know, but I think someone should push back against the extrapolation to biochar.


ROBERT W GILLETT
 
Edited

Don,

This recent germane article, which concludes that black carbon in the ocean did not originate mostly on land, has a link to a 2017 paper that may be the one Albert referred to. 

Robert


Don Coyne <don@...>
 

Thanks Robert, Chars! 😉

 

From: main@Biochar.groups.io <main@Biochar.groups.io> On Behalf Of ROBERT W GILLETT
Sent: Thursday, 26 December 2019 8:09 PM
To: main@Biochar.groups.io
Subject: Re: [Biochar] A Subtle Attack on Biochar for Carbon Sequestration #carbon #wildfire

 

[Edited Message Follows]

Don,

This recent germane article, which concludes that black carbon in the ocean did not originate mostly on land, has a link to a 2017 paper that may be the one Albert referred to. 

Robert


Don Coyne <don@...>
 


Nando Breiter
 

Interestingly, the oldest carbon found in soils is found in micro-aggregates, bound to minerals. This carbon tends to be aliphatic rather than aromatic, and this is largely true within Terra Preta soils. See: Organic matter stabilization in soil microaggregates: implications from spatial heterogeneity of organic carbon contents and carbon forms and Analytical electron microscopy of black carbon and microaggregated mineral matter in Amazonian dark Earth  There is an abundance of research on the stability of aggregated organic carbon, or rather that aggregation is one of the main drivers of carbon stability: Persistence of soil organic matter as an ecosystem property


The issue with fresh char from a wildfire is that it will be hydrophobic and deposited on the surface. It's going to wash away fairly easily - perhaps very easily because it floats. However, if biochar is prepared in such a way that it rapidly forms aggregates (particle size reduction and co-composting or vermicomposting is a good step in this direction), it seems much more likely to remain where it is applied, resistant to both decomposition and migration.

Terra preta soils could be cited as evidence of this. Because of the high concentration of minerals in Terra Preta that are not present in surround soils, it can be inferred that char must have been co-composted with biogenic material, which likely encouraged the formation of aggregates, particularly in the presence of clay soils. 

Amazonian composting worms may have also played a role in helping to aggregate the char particles that became Terra Preta. See Ingestion of charcoal by the Amazonian earthworm Pontoscolex corethrurus: a potential for tropical soil fertility

Recent research has shown that composting worms common to temperate regions, such as Eisenia fetida, reproduce much more rapidly if their diet includes biochar. See The effect of precomposted sewage sludge mixture amended with biochar on the growth and reproduction of Eisenia fetida during laboratory vermicomposting

So it seems we can create biochar soil amendments that are both highly fertile and stable.

--
Nando Breiter
http://biochar.info
CarbonZero Sagl
Astano, Switzerland